Karen Belz
August 16, 2013 9:00 am

While ignorance may be bliss, knowing what’s happening in the world is an asset. Surely Stephanie Banister, a 27-year old Australian political candidate, has learned this lesson by now. After a pretty embarrassing interview with CNN affiliate 7 News went to air, the candidate stepped down after an exhausting 48-hour campaign, blaming this action on threats to her family. Included on her list of offenses: Thinking Islam was a country, possibly using the term “haram” (things that are forbidden under Islamic law) instead of Quran (the Muslim holy book), misunderstanding the Jewish religion, and stating that Australia’s national disability insurance scheme was “working at the moment”, when it’s set to launch in 2016.

Her mistakes were delivered with a sense of confidence, which made the interview even more difficult to watch. Surely we all make mistakes, but – to make so many during a broadcast, while running for a seat, is truly mortifying.

While nobody is saying that you should be a walking CNN news ticker, it’s important to have a firm idea of what’s happening around you. Not only can having a decent knowledge of current events help with starting up a few conversations with your peers, but it can help shape your personal viewpoints on the directions that we, as a country, should take moving forward.

While some of us have a knack for retaining information, and have a true natural interest in learning what’s happening in the world, others (like me) aren’t as gifted in this field. But this downfall shouldn’t cause any of us to shut off our brains the second someone mentions the hardship that Egypt is currently suffering.

Here’s what you can do to make sure you’re informed:

Consider Making Your Home Page A News Site. My personal favorite is CNN, but there are many out there – go ahead and see which will be your best match. Even being able to read a few headlines first thing in the morning will give you a good grasp on what’s happening today, and will get your brain working first thing in the morning.

Follow News Sites on Twitter. Most news sources have a twitter account that’s constantly being updated. If there’s breaking news, journalists often find twitter to be one of the best resources to get it out there first.

Every Week, Choose Something New To Research. We’re spoiled to have all of the information we could ever want at our fingertips. When two co-workers are trying to figure out the title of a movie that came out a few years ago, I can bravely announce it within seconds based on the power of Google. Take this massive advantage we have, and challenge yourself with it. What have been the most recent progressions with immigration? How about women’s health? How has the economy been, numerically speaking? What’s your opinion on Voter ID laws?

If Someone Asks Your Opinion About Something In The News, And You Don’t Know It, Be Honest. While this might have been tough for Ms. Banister, she probably learned pretty quickly that saying something like “I’m not as well read on the topic yet, but I plan to look into it” is better than making up something fictional. Nobody will expect you to shoot out statistics, but admitting your lack of knowledge on a particular topic is 100% more respectful and graceful, than shooting out opinions that have yet to truly be developed. (Next step? Develop those opinions!)

Yes – News is often depressing. Nobody thinks it’s ideal to come home from a day at work and watch a broadcast about fallen soldiers or kidnapped children. But unfortunately, it’s harsh reality that encourages us to really make a difference in the world – and even tuning into 15 minutes of the evening news will serve you better than watching that rerun of Friends you’ve seen a dozen times before. (Admit it. It’s been at least a dozen. No judgments, since I’m in this category as well.)

Here’s how to put an optimistic spin on that: When you hear about something terrible, start thinking about what you can do to help the problem. There will never be a day where something horrific doesn’t happen in the world, but even having the motivation to send care packages and letters to the families of those aforementioned soldiers could truly bring a smile to someone who needs it most.

Do you have any other tips on how to be well informed? Feel free to share them with us. After all, HelloGiggles is a site for all of you strong, creative individuals – and being fully informed and educated is a key component in helping you be the best you can be.

Image Credit: Shutterstock (Featured)

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